Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, “Backlash” (Ingroove). Once a fast-rising star with a major-label deal, funk-blues-punk stylist Joe Lewis and his Honeybears ensemble did a slow fade over the past decade, after their notoriety peaked with an EP and album on Lost Highway Records. “Electric Slave” followed on Vagrant before an extended break, as Lewis moonlighted with members of the Weary Boys in lower-profile side project the Joe Jacksons. “Backlash,” his first album under his own name in four years, includes a reconstituted Honeybears crew featuring guitarist Michael Brinley, bassist William Stevenson and drummer Doug Leveton plus a brass section of Jason Frey, Derek Phelps and Joseph Woullard. Those horn players provide much of the invigorating punch on these 11 originals, which feature solid musicianship throughout but not much of a spark in terms of songwriting. Uncredited strings stand out on “Lips of a Loser,” a six-minute track that’s perhaps the album’s most compelling moment. In-store Feb. 10 at Waterloo Records. Here’s the first single, “PTP”:

Merles, “Hate to Say Goodbye.” A regular presence in Austin haunts such as the Little Longhorn Saloon and the White Horse, the Merles capture their easygoing honky-tonk vibe on this full-length debut recorded with engineer Britton Beisenhertz. Leader Todd Deatherage formed the band in 2008 after moving here from Dallas, though he’d previously used the Merles name for busking gigs in Brooklyn. An EP featuring classic covers preceded this collection of 14 originals, a solid creative step for a band that has learned well from its inspirations. The husband-wife team of Derek and Loren Tarnow provide guitars and backing vocals, respectively, with drummer Matt Winegardner and upright bassist Phil Spencer anchoring the rhythm. Renowned steel player Geoff Queen adds his golden touch to many tracks, with additional contributions from fiddler Eddie Dickerson, keyboardist Basil McJagger and horn player Michael St. Clair. Release show Feb. 24 at White Horse. A sample of the track “Room 242” is available on the band’s website:


Kathy & the Kilowatts, “Let’s Do This Thing.” The longtime Austin blues-rocker and her band serve up 15 tracks that highlight leader Kathy Murray’s personable vocals. Release show Feb. 11 at C-Boy’s. Here’s a live version of the track “Loveaholic”:

A-Town GetDown, “We Won’t Stop.” Full-length debut from the R&B/funk-rock ensemble featuring Quincy Cooper, Casey Byars, Jordan Caulfield, Damon Garcia, Greg Goldsmith and John Taylor Voss. Acclaimed Austin producer Adrian Quesada was at the helm in the studio. Release show Feb. 10 at 3Ten. Here’s an album  sample, from the band’s Facebook page:

Fledglings, “We’re All Gonna Die.” On these eight rock-pop tracks, the quartet fronted by Kat McNevins and Wayne Stovey keep things light and don’t take themselves too seriously, as evident from songs with titles such as “Babies With Rabies” and “Kissing Like Cows in the Night.” Playing Feb. 23 at Sahara Lounge. Here’s the lead track, “Diamonds and Buckets of Rust”:

Letting Up Despite Great Faults, “Alexander Devotion” EP (Shelflife). A decade into a run that has produced more than a half-dozen LPs and EPs, the trio of Mike Lee, Kent Zambrana and Daniel Schmidt continue to release some of Austin’s most compelling electronic pop music. Washes of keyboards and ringing guitars create a rich melodic sheen for the bright vocals to float above, but it’s often the relentlessly upbeat rhythms that are most infectious. Release show Feb. 16 at Barracuda. Here’s the video for the leadoff track, “Starlet”:

Hunter Sharpe, “Forced Landings” EP. Long a rising teen star on the Austin rock scene, Hunter Sharpe is now 20, and his music shows signs of that growing maturity on this six-song debut release. Supported by a three-piece band including Charlie Sexton’s teenage son Marlon, Sharpe delivers slickly produced, guitar-fueled modern rock that shows promise, though the songwriting ultimately feels a little too distant to make a deep emotional connection. Release show Feb. 10 at Sidewinder. Here’s the video for the lead track, “Tokyo”:

Ali Holder, “Huntress Moon” EP. Holder twists her folk-based emotional songwriting with occasional bursts of guitar distortion, providing some intrigue to these four tracks (plus a spoken-word prologue to the tune “Gemini Gunslinger”). Release show Feb. 10 at Cactus Cafe.

Wil Cope, “Gloom Shrine” EP. Latest effort from the country-folk singer-songwriter who’s a regular presence at longstanding campus-area hangout Hole in the Wall, where he’ll hold his release show on Feb. 11. Here’s a video for the track “Misguided Memories.:


FEB. 17: Curtis McMurtry, “The Hornet’s Nest,” release show Feb. 24 at Cactus Cafe.FEB. 17: Molly Burch, “Please Be Mine,” release show Feb. 18 at Mohawk.FEB. 17: Katy Starr, “Soulingo,” release show Feb. 17 at Spider House Ballroom.FEB. 17: Julie Slim & Rendez Vous, “Promenade Sentimentale,” release show Feb. 17 at Central Market Westgate.FEB. 18: Later Days, “Lost in the Sound,” release show Feb. 17 at Grizzly Hall.FEB. 24: Shinyribs, “I Got Your Medicine,” release show March 3 at Antone’s.FEB. 24: Scott H. Biram, “The Bad Testament” (Bloodshot).FEB. 24: Billy Harvey, “Elephants in the Room.”FEB. 24: Go Fever, self-titled, release show Feb. 24 at Cheer Up Charlie’s.FEB. 24: Chase Gassaway, “A Fly Can’t Bird,” release show Feb. 21 at Tellers.FEB. 24: Adam Torres, “I Came to Sing the Song” EP (Fat Possum), release show Feb. 25 at Cactus Cafe.FEB. 24: Christina Cavazos, “Cold” EP.MARCH 3: My Education, “Schiphol” (Headbump), release show March 25 at Sidewinder.MARCH 3: Cilantro Boombox, “Shine.”MARCH 10: Sunny Sweeney, “Trophy” (Thirty Tigers).MARCH 17: Spoon, “Hot Thoughts” (Matador), playing March 14-16 during SXSW at Eno’s (the original Emo’s).MARCH 24: Ruthie Foster, “Joy Comes Back “(Blue Corn).MARCH 24: Will Johnson, “Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm” (Undertow).MARCH 29: DC Bloom, “Just Another Song and Dance Man,” release show March 29 at G&S Lounge.MARCH 31: Toma, “Aroma.”APRIL 7: Darden Smith, “Everything,” release show April 8 at Stateside at the Paramount.APRIL 7: Sweet Spirit, “St. Mojo” (Nine Mile).APRIL 21: Emily Bell & the Talkbacks, “Kali” EP.APRIL 28: Willie Nelson, “God’s Problem Child” (Legacy).APRIL 28: Beth // James, “All in Life” EP.SPRING: Ulrich Ellison & Tribe.